NOTE: this article is outdated. Please see our full review of VidAngel.
Did you ever hear of ClearPlay? Our family had one, and we loved it. It’s a DVD player that allows you to filter all the sex, violence, and profanity out of movies. I’ll be honest, most of the movies we watched didn’t need it that much, but it was very good at removing the proverbial cockroaches from the ice cream.
I’ll be honest about something else. I haven’t watched a DVD in ages. Streaming is the name of the game these days. So I had pretty much resigned myself to watching the bugs in the ice cream or not partaking at all. Not an impossible choice, but I can’t deny my standards have cycled in and out of “good.”
Enter VidAngel. Basically, this is ClearPlay for streaming video. It filters sex, nudity, profanity, and violence out of streaming video according to your very granular preferences. It is a Chrome extension and service that works on YouTube and for movies watched via the Google Play Store.
The filters are crowdsourced, as far as I can tell, and the selection might not be utterly fantastic, but it’s growing quickly, with popular shows like House of Cards, Breaking Bad, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones being added to the mix, along with many new releases and award-winning films.
Selection issues aside, I can vouch for the performance of the Chrome extension. I watched Gladiator, a movie whose soundtrack I’ve always loved, but which I’ve never seen due to lots of rated R content. VidAngel worked like a charm. I have a feeling the movie as I experienced it was significantly shorter than the original, but I suppose that’s to be expected when filtering rated R violence out of a film about humans slaughtering each other for sport.
What does it cost? The answer to this question changed between the time I started drafting this post and the time I published it. Originally, it was a freemium-type model, where the filters were free for older and less popular shows, and you paid for new releases and the like. Now, however, you can either buy a subscription for $7.99/mo (unlimited filters), or purchase individual filters for viewing. VidAngel seems to be a rapidly developing product, so check in with them often to see what’s new.
Note: If you use Chromecast, you must use the tab cast feature for the filtering to work.
If you primarily stream your movies and shows, and you want to spare yourself the filth and still see a movie you’ve always wanted to, this might be a good way to do it. Check out their explanatory video below.
When it comes to filtering movies and TV shows, what is your take? Is it worth it? Does it destroy artistic integrity? Or is it a great way to enjoy entertainment with your family? Let us know in the comments below.